Chemical management ‘It’s not rocket science’ but people still don’t get it!

Chemical management ‘It’s not rocket science’ but people still don’t get it!

Stuart J. Platt

Back in 2016 (July) we thought we would identify some of the “Common Chemical Management Non-Conformance’s we regularly see” while out and about conducting our audits and inspections for various clients and organisations.

Back then we had identified on a regular basis regarding hazardous substance management:

  • Safety Data Sheets (SDS) were either not available or out of date.
  • Hazardous substances risk assessments not conducted or documented
  • A lack of spill response preparedness or old/worn spill response equipment.
  • Lots of Incompatibility issues i.e.  Class 2 (flammable gasses) and class 3 (Flammable liquids) stored together with corrosives etc.
  • Issues with storage practices such as:
    • Chemical stored in unventilated areas such as sea containers or in unmarked cupboards.
    • Liquid hazardous substances not stored in spill capture containers i.e. bunds.
    • Decanting into food containers

Well fast forward to 2021 and we are still seeing the same issues time and time again! This has been with several organisations, entities or individuals. So, what are we getting wrong? Why are organisations not learning from previous audits, inspections or incidents? We usually get several answers running in a theme

  • I didn’t know I had to do risk assessments……
  • Oh’ the SDS”s are out of date
  • Oh, those chemicals just came to site; we don’t have the SDS’s yet…….
  • Yeah, we know the guys keep using the spill response bin to deposit their garbage…..
  • I didn’t know we couldn’t store them together…..
  • No, we don’t have all the chemicals on a register…
  • What, we have to ensure that we capture all the subbies chemicals in our register…..

Mainly we just get silence or the long stare of ignorance. We even get “yeah we know, we just haven’t gotten around to it yet” response

Some of these answers have come from Occupational Safety and Health practitioners. Remember, we all have an obligation to identify and control any hazards in the work place. This includes hazardous substances, which some people fail to fathom. Chemical management, especially regarding hazardous chemicals is not a ‘rocket science’ type of process, it’s pretty basic really.

Part 5 of the Western Australian Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 and, Part 7 of Safe Work Australian Model Work Health and Safety Regulations 2019 clearly details what is required regarding control of Hazardous chemicals in the workplace,

This is why we think the Chemwatch Chemical management system is a great tool to enhance any organisation. (Psst, it is not just chemicals the Chemwatch system can assist you with!).

A great ‘time management’ tool which is available at your fingertips 24/7, in the field, warehouse, office or while you are in transit. It will definitely assist with you compliance obligations.

So, just like last time we’ll ask this question again “when was the last time you reviewed your management practices around chemicals”?

If you would like some ‘fresh eyes’ to run over your chemical management practices, don’t hesitate to give us a call  or ask for an obligation free trial of the chemwatch system.  (A database of 60 million SDS’s and growing daily)


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